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Social Innovation Relay - winners of the 2020 edition

17 June 2020

For the 6th consecutive year, JA Europe and NN Group have partnered through the Social Innovation Relay to empower young people to tackle societal challenges by using innovation and entrepreneurship. Every year, we involve more than 10 000 students and 200 NN Group volunteers from across 10 countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia and Spain.

Yesterday, 10 student teams from across Europe joined an online competition to present their business ideas to a panel of international judges. REN, ACCESS and Medinow came up with the most innovative ideas that combined societal impact with market potential.

The event marked the final part of the Social Innovation Relay, an innovative programme designed to impact essential skills of secondary school students that underscores the important link between businesses and the society. Participating in the SIR allows young people to think like social entrepreneurs, gives them access to the latest technology and shows them that starting their own business can be a viable career choice.

"The Social Innovation Relay is a great way of challenging young people to think of innovative ways to tackle societal problems. It is amazing to see such a high level of understanding of the different issues societies face. The technical, scalable and original way students of this young age think about solutions is applaudible. I congratulate all teams on their placement in the global final, and especially the top three for their outstanding achievement. I am sure a great future lies ahead of all of you" - Emily DE LAAT, Programme Manager Future Matters Netherlands, NN Group

Prior to the event, the participating teams were paired with NN mentors who connected with the best 20 teams in each country to help them develop concept papers that could be translated into feasible business ideas. The involvement of NN volunteers is a key component of the SIR programme, as they share knowledge and experience with students or. give feedback and recommendations to improve the projects.

In addition, the programme offers the opportunity for students to make connections between theory and practice to solve social challenges. Through a combination of online and offline activities, the participants are able to develop entrepreneurial skills and become more responsible and aware of social issues in various sectors: education, health, social inclusion, living standards or sustainability.

About REN from Slovakia

REN with its solid cleaner, CLEAN’D, is bringing a practical alternative to liquid cleaners for everyone who enjoys camping, going to festivals, or is interested in more practical and environmentally friendly cleaning.

About ACCESS from Singapore

ACCESS is a social enterprise that matches Youth with Autism (YWA) with mainstream employment to create a more inclusive workplace. Our unique model hires YWA directly and outsource them to companies. Our trained mentors will provide support to the YWA on-the-job for up to 1 year and train the companies to deal with challenges. This increases the chances of YWA staying on the job.

About Medinow from Greece

Given the restricted access to health care units existing in rural or remote areas in our country, we have developed the Medinow app in order to upgrade the quality of emergency care for both locals and visitors. Our application provides immediate geolocation information of users in need (a worldwide innovation) to volunteer doctors who are signed up in the application. This way, the response time which has proven to be the most critical factor in the positive outcome of most emergencies is reduced.

Meet the SIR 2020 jury members 

The jury was composed of the following members: 

  • Donald AEBI - President of JA Alumni Europe
  • Christian ERFURT - CEO and Founder of Be My Eyes
  • Riley DOYLE EVANS - Cross-KIC Education Project Manager, European Institute of Innovation & Technology RawMaterials
  • Emily DE LAAT - Programme Manager Future Matters Netherlands, NN Group
  • Chrysanthi PAPATHANOU - Digital Marketing Team Leader, NN Hellas

About JA Europe

JA Europe is the largest non-profit in Europe dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship. JA Europe is a member of JA Worldwide, which for 100 years has delivered hands on, experiential learning in entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. JA creates pathways for employability, job creation and financial success.

Last school year, the JA network in Europe reached more than 4 million young people across 40 countries with the support of 140,000 business volunteers and 130,000 teachers/educators.

About the NN Group

NN is an insurance and investment management company active in more than 18 countries, with a strong presence in a number of European countries and Japan. Our roots lie in the Netherlands, with a rich history that stretches back over more than 170 years. NN offers retirement services, insurance, investments and banking products. Customers range from individuals and small and medium-sized companies to large corporate and institutional investors.

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